Sep. 6—SOUTHERN INDIANA — After nearly six years some of the victims of a Sellersburg used car dealership owner have been awarded their motor vehicle titles by a Clark County judge.
A summary judgment entered by Clark Superior Court Judge Kyle P. Williams on Aug. 31 also requires defendants Auto Enterprises, Dustin Meade and Kayla Bartley to pay restitution.
According to court records the defendants, who face a bankruptcy trial in New Albany in January, owe $226,049.19 to the State of Indiana and plaintiffs in this case.
"I'm surprised we haven't really heard more from (the judgment) because of it taking so long," said Teresa Marlene Shultz. "My main issue now is what we're going to run into if we go to the BMV."
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is ordered by the judge to issue vehicle titles to 18 customers in total.
Shultz reached out to the News and Tribune last week, days before the summary judgment was entered, frustrated about the situation.
She said her family has been waiting nearly six years for the title belonging to a Black Ford F-250 truck purchased in 2016 by her husband, Kelly Shultz.
She said it's been a long, expensive headache.
"It's cost us thousands (of extra) dollars, because we could've sold this truck a long time ago, our payment is like $400 at 7% interest," she said, adding the family could've refinanced the loan at a lower rate had they had their title.
The truck uses expensive diesel fuel and the family has to send out for a temporary tag each month. Every month she said has to go into her family's RiverLink account and change the license plate number.
She said her notice about the summary judgment said her family will be compensated, but didn't provide any other details.
According to the summary judgment, the court finds, "The Defendant operated as a supplier engaged in the sale of used motor vehicles to consumers and failed to deliver products or services that the Defendant represented to consumers that it could."
Indiana State Police started investigating Meade in 2017 after customers told authorities they bought vehicles from the now-shuttered Sellersburg dealership but weren't given warranties or car titles that they paid for.
Affidavits from the customers show that at least 19 consumers didn't get the title to their motor vehicles within 31 days of purchase.
According to the summary judgment, "Consumer affidavits further show that the Defendant failed to remit consumer funds to third-party service contract providers and also failed to remit agreed-upon funds to lien holders to pay off consumer trade-in vehicles. The Defendant failed to do these things after representing to consumers that it would do them."
The defendants are also required to pay the Indiana Attorney General's office more than $77,000 in restitution to nine plaintiffs.
They're also ordered to pay a total of $135,000 for violating the Deceptive Consumer Sales act, consisting of $5,000 for each of the deceptive acts committed.
Another $13,500 is owed by the defendants for "incurable deceptive acts," consisting of $500 for each "incurable deceptive act" committed against consumers.
According to Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita's Press Secretary Kelly Stevenson, the state's Consumer Protection Division filed a lawsuit under the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act in July 2018 against KB Auto Enterprises LLC, All American Auto Sales and owners Kayla Bartley and Dustin Meade.
The suit was filed "alleging failure to pay off liens on trade-ins, failure to remit funds for service contracts sold by the dealer, and failure to deliver titles to 25 consumers," Stevenson said in an email to the News and Tribune.
One of the goals of the lawsuit is to require Indiana's Bureau of Motor Vehicles to issue certificates of title to the people who purchased the vehicles.
Meade is also facing two Level 6 felony deception charges in Clark Circuit Court 3. The next hearing in connection to that case is scheduled for Sept. 13.